Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Helen Kane - 'Boop Boop A Do'
Helen Kane was a popular singer of the 1920s and 1930s, first appearing in Vaudeville, then continuing on to revues, Broadway shows, and movies.
She had large eyes and black curly hair, and she sang in a cutesy squeaky voice, punctuating several of her songs with a 'boop-boop-a-do'. Her most famous song is "I Wanna Be Loved By You", but she also had hits with "Button Up Your Overcoat", "He's So Unusual", "That's My Weakness Now", and "Get Out and Get Under the Moon", among others.
Miss Kane's image and voice-likeness were used as Max Fleischer's "Betty Boop" cartoon character, but the voice was actually done by Mae Questel.
Miss Kane died in 1966, and I remember reading of her passing in the newspaper. I was familiar with her songs because I had some of them on 78rpm records.
Her husband was Dan Healy, a well-known 'Master of Ceremonies' on Broadway, as well as an owner of a popular restaurant, Healy's Grill. In 1969, during the early years of my autograph collecting, I found a phone number for Mr. Healy, who was still living in the same residence he shared with Helen, in Jackson Heights, NY. With the intention of asking if he had any photos of her, I called him, but he was not in a good mood. I asked if he was the husband of Helen Kane, and he said "Yeah yeah", and when I started to ask a few other questions and explain why I called, he said, "Look kid, will you leave me alone?". I asked what was the matter and he said he had a terrible head cold, and I'd woken him from a sound sleep. I apologized and told him I'd write a letter, and he said, "Yeah, do that!" and hung up the phone.
I did write to him, but never received a reply. Later that year, he died.
In 1990, I purchased Helen Kane's signature on an autograph album page, from a reliable autograph dealer. (The original owner presumably wrote the date "6/34" on the page).
Here's a song from a 1929 movie, with Helen Kane singing and dancing with Skeets Gallagher.